So we’re talking merger?

The news over the past few days has been Liberal-NDP merger. This is all talk and serves to undermine Michael Ignatieff as leader of the Liberal Party. Over the past month, there’s been renewed talk of coalition between the Liberals and NDP and this was spurred on by a couple of polls indicating that a Michael Ignatieff led coalition would lose to Stephen Harper, a Bob Rae led one would tie and — just for fun — a Jack Layton led coalition would win. Another poll was released to suggest that a majority of Canadians would support a coalition party against the Conservatives (you gotta love those leaderless ideal-leader poll questions!)

The problem is, however, is that the electorate wouldn’t be asked as they were by their friendly dinner-time-calling pollster friends. Michael Ignatieff has explicitly said (at least in his latest iteration) that he would not run as a coalition during the next election and that the numbers post-election would govern his choice.

When we ran against the coalition (extra-writ) in December 2008, what most Canadians found offensive about such a proposed coalition was that the separatist Bloc Quebecois would be given a veto on government of Canada decisions (as a partner to government). Furthermore, an election result returned just six weeks earlier would have been overturned. While constitutional, most Canadians felt that such a move lacked moral authority; Stephane Dion had dismissed any talk of coalition during the election campaign and then was ready to form one after the ballots were counted. A coalition was forced upon Canadians without consultation or consideration, but worse, it was done so after it was explicitly stated that it would not happen.

Fast forward to today. Michael Ignatieff’s problem during any future election will be the big question mark placed upon him by voters (helped by the Conservative Party) that asks if he has different intentions in his mind than what he utters from the stump. He’s been for the coalition, then against, then for one if necessary but not necessarily, then against, then for but only after Canadians decide against his party. Canadians rejected Stephane Dion because they were unsure of his uncertain carbon tax (and leadership) during tough economic times. Now, a question of political instability still looms and Michael Ignatieff is doing nothing to firm up confidence in his leadership.

Make no mistake, coalition talk (and merger talk) at this time serves no other purpose than to undermine the leadership of Michael Ignatieff. In fact, winners from such musings are Stephen Harper, Bob Rae and Jack Layton. Michael Ignatieff has had few perceived victories since taking the helm of the Liberal Party. His now famous “your time is up” bellicose utterance to Stephen Harper is now a cliche in Ottawa circles. The summer season can spell death for opposition leaders as they clamour for the media spotlight and Michael Ignatieff is about to embark on his summer tour with no gas in the tank. Consider that while Michael Ignatieff was trying to find his feat during prorogation, Stephen Harper hosted the world at the Olympics. While Michael Ignatieff uncomfortably flips burgers with all of the enthusiasm of a dyspeptic turtle this summer, Stephen Harper will be hosting world leaders at the G20/G8 summits and the Queen during Canada Day to boot. Michael Ignatieff will emerge this summer a faded version of his grey self or with Rae’s daggers in his back.

And now there’s talk of merger with mere weeks of Ottawa spotlight left for Michael Ignatieff? This is nothing more than to give the party something to chew over while they consider their leader’s long-term viability. The Liberal Party will not merge with the NDP. The party’s grassroots put up with enough as they told their Central-Nova activists to stand down against Elizabeth May during Dion’s cooperation deal with the Greens. One cannot imagine 308 (times 2) riding associations trading horses for the right to run their chosen candidate — most have already been nominated. Consider too that the Liberal Party of Canada is the most successful political party of western democracies over the past 100 years. A mere four years out of power is no time to get desperate, lads.

Rae’s real prize is convincing the left that he can lead them to power, but as leader of that historic Liberal Party. With Rae in the Liberal top-spot, Liberal-NDP switchers will go Liberal leaving the NDP a shadow of itself. Is merger on the table? No. But talk of a merger sends a signal to all that the Liberal Party is not content with itself and when you do the math it’s a question of leadership, not its constitution.

Liberal reaction full of holes

Too illustrative, too offensive? The Liberal comms strategy on this IS full of holes I’m sorry to say.

Yesterday, I went on Evan Soloman’s Power & Politics show to talk Photoshop faux-pas and the illustration that was put on the Liberal Party website showing the PM in a Liberal partisan “assassination fantasy”. I mentioned that ad hominem always fails in communications; personal attacks such as the Liberal photoshop failed and the Conservative poopin’ puffin failed too.

Soloman mentioned another illustration (which was not available at airtime) of “bullet holes” around Stephane Dion’s head that appeared on the Conservative Party website.

Here is the is the illustration in question, held up by Kinsella on P&P yesterday and today on CTV’s Canada AM:

One of the tools in a web designer’s toolbox is the stock photo. For a buck or two, a designer can grab a professional illustration or photo to accent a base illustration or photo. In this case, a Conservative web designer grabbed a stock photo of
“holes” from a website called iStockphoto (a website I highly recommend, btw).

Here is the image from iStockphoto:

and the name of the file on the iStockphoto website? Not “Bullet Holes” but “Paper Holes“:

Holes in Dion’s plan, holes in Dion’s platform?

Why do the Liberals only see death?

Let’s consider the process of the Liberal apology:
1) An apology from “The Web Team” at Liberal.ca if the assassination photoshop may have offended some people.
2) An apology from Ralph Goodale suggesting that social media does not allow for editorial control. This is so absolutely wrong and misleading. The Liberal.ca photoshop contest had a screening process (ie. “editorial control”)
3) An accusation from Warren Kinsella that the other guys are just as bad so let’s all just forget the Liberal transgression.

When the poopin puffin was released, the Prime Minister apologized to Stephane Dion. When will Michael Ignatieff apologize to Stephen Harper for a mock assassination photo that appeared on the Liberal leader’s website?

Your move, Warren

The Tories have been criticized lately for putting their party logo on some non-negotiable jumbo novelty cheques. While I agree that the practice of associating party brand so explicitly with public money should stop, let’s remember that news is “man bites dog” not “dog bites man” and there are true masters of pushing the partisan envelope still around.

We see that Warren Kinsella’s old boss said something about pepper on his plate and the parliamentary press gallery had a chuckle and then hit Hy’s for some more vino. However, Andrew McIntosh and Joel-Denis Bellavance from the National Post were on the job and cast some light on Jean Chretien’s partisan abuse of public dollars.

PM comfortable using grants for partisan reasons: ‘nothing to be ashamed’

National Post
Sat Feb 19 2000
Page: A8
Section: News
Byline: Andrew McIntosh and Joel-Denis Bellavance
Column: In Ottawa ; in Quebec City
Dateline: OTTAWA; QUEBEC CITY
Source: National Post

OTTAWA and QUEBEC CITY – Jean Chretien, the Prime Minister, yesterday said his government had nothing to apologize for in seeking to reap maximum partisan political benefit from disbursing $1-billion worth of federal job grants across Canada each year.

He had always made sure since taking power in October, 1993, that voters were left in no doubt that it was his Liberals who were distributing such grants, he said.

“Listen,” he added, “we are the government … I don’t see why we can’t try to get credit for what we do. I hope we do so. There is nothing to be ashamed in that.”

Previously, Mr. Chretien and Jane Stewart, the Human Resources Minister, have insisted in Parliament that the $1-billion in grants for job creation, training, literacy and other projects were not allocated with the intention of gaining partisan advantage, but rather were designed to benefit ridings regardless of their political complexion.

The prime minister, joined by Paul Martin, the Finance Minister, told a news conference that increasing reports of the financial mismanagement at Human Resources Development Canada would not tarnish his government’s fiscal credibility.

The National Post reported yesterday that Peter Donolo, the prime minister’s former director of communications, created and ran a well-oiled public relations campaign to ensure that Liberals — ministers and MPs — took maximum credit for job creation grants across the country.

Job creation money is at the centre of accusations that Human Resources grants were mismanaged and improperly used as a slush fund to win votes and reward loyalists.

Opposition MPs were stunned by Mr. Chretien’s performance in Quebec City, saying that the Liberals will suffer politically if the prime minister continues to deny the seriousness of the HRDC mess.

“It’s pretty brazen,” said Diane Ablonczy, a Reform party MP form Calgary. “Clearly, Mr. Chretien has no shame or contrition for mismanaging taxpayers’ money and abusing the public trust. Canadians won’t forget that at election time.”

Peter MacKay, the Conservative House leader, said, “The prime minister has flipped his wig. He has demonstrated once again he is completely out of touch with reality and he is displaying increadible arrogance by trying to minimize this serious problem.”

Mr. Chretien conceded that there were “obvious” management problems at HRDC, which were condemned in a scathing departmental audit published last month, and that these must be rectified.

The prime minister said, “Of course, there are problems, but we have to place the problem in a certain perspective. We have to make regular adjustments on the basis of recommendations by those people who conduct the audit. It’s a huge department that has over 20,000 employees … There’s no doubt that it’s an extremely difficult department to manage. What strikes me is that no recipient has complained thus far. To go and say that it’s a scandal, one must not exaggerate.”

The prime minister denied, despite a number of documented cases, that Liberal MPs sought extra pre-election advantage by announcing new grants just before the 1997 general election and before the grants were officially approved.

In the House of Commons, the Liberals suffered another verbal pounding over the financial scandal. The opposition claimed that a newly disclosed 1997 review reveals that there was political interference in the approval of Transitional Jobs Fund projects. It showed, the opposition said, that the Liberals used the $100-million-a-year program to buy votes.

Aside from finding incompetence, the audit concluded that HRDC bureaucrats were pressured by political operatives to speed through approval for projects that “did not meet TJF elgibility criteria.” Several were found not to be failing to create jobs.

Mr. MacKay, the Nova Scotia Tory, questioned whether Ms Stewart could be trusted, saying: “Daily the minister of HRDC subjects Canadians to the sad spectacle of self-destruction with the documented mishandling and mismanagement of taxpayers money that was uncovered by the internal audit, the subsequent fallout, the spin-doctoring, the witholding of information, the manipulation of statistics and the sliding scale of eligibility.”

Ms. Stewart brushed off his call for her to resign. She later produced a letter showing that after she became HRDC minister, she removed herself from all decision-making about grants in her riding, Brant, Ont., by delegating her power to approve them to her top bureaucrat, Claire Morris, the HRDC deputy minister.

Call and answer

I like Warren Kinsella. One of the reasons I like him is because he went for my open question, brought in the other side to weigh in, and now this allows us to fill in the blanks too. Oh, and he introduced me to Bob Rae, the next leader of the Liberal party!

Tweet the first:

Tweet the second:

Other potential tweets:

“Senate reform: can’t wait to pass legislation that has popular support by folks that have a democratic mandate from Canadians! The scotch budget, however, will remain.”

“Respect for the Alberta: Liberal-free since 2006. WK may return but has to wear black hat in the parade”

“When the ‘decade of darkness’ for the military re: Liberal investment is so far in the past, kids file it along with ‘moon landing’ and ‘Michael Jackson’ as crazy #$@* that happened that only our history books can really tell us about”

“When the Liberal party stops offering us out-of-touch humanities professors to feast upon, and tosses us a street-brawler like Jean Chretien or (oh please) Ruby Dhalla”

“When ‘Unity Crisis’ is mistaken as the name for an 80s revival band that covers Starship, rather than our recurring Liberal ballot headache”

What other things are you hopeful for in the future?

Photoshop fun: a variation on this week’s persistent theme

After cleaning house in the Opposition leader’s office, Ignatieff is expected to put so many of his former Toronto faithful in prominent backroom jobs that some are already calling it the “Rosedale gang.” — Toronto Star, January 9th 2009

“Should [Ignatieff] follow his Quebec lieutenant while working closely with a credible team? Or his Toronto advisers who know nothing about the social and political realities of Quebec?” — Denis Coderre


(click to enlarge)

Cliquez ici pour la version française

www.kinsellasfortruth.com

Like Warren Kinsella, I’ve stayed out of much of this whole story about RepublicansforIgnatieff.com. First, it was because I was enjoying the blogosphere’s reaction to the website, and then the media’s reaction to the website, and then the reaction to it by Michael Ignatieff’s war room chief.

Today I became “Kinsella-famous” (as one reader emailed to say). Warren Kinsella states that he thinks that I am behind the website that insincerely lauds Michael Ignatieff.

True, I’m no stranger to online activism and politicking; I launched Iggyfacts.ca to help define Michael Ignatieff enabling users of Twitter to retweet facts about our favourite accidental tourist. In December, I launched RallyforCanada.ca to help organize nationwide protests against the Ignatieff endorsed unelected coalition government supported by the Bloc Quebecois. Please forgive the tone here, it is just to make the point that I am more that likely to put my name on my projects.

As for RepublicansforIgnatieff.com, I’d like to thank Kinsella for the kind words; the website has caused a lot of stir and it’s deeply complimentary to for him think that I’d be the one behind it.

In Ottawa, the politics of distraction is the process story. RepublicansforIgnatieff.com is a bit of mana from heaven for political journalists who think that communion wafers, G8 photo-op flops and PM apologies are played out. RFI.com is a perfect process story to hit web browsers and newspaper readers for a period of days, if not a couple of weeks. For someone that trades in process stories, Kinsella however recognizes that this story deflects from the main storyline and only Liberal-driven process stories are beneficial to his team. So how to kill a story that isn’t?

A lesson that I’ve learned from online politics and media in this town is that official still matters. You or I could make commercial quality Youtube videos everyday until the next election, but unless they were official party efforts, they would be largely ignored because of significance of source. If Stephen Harper made a Youtube video slagging Ignatieff, it would be national news. Iggyfacts.ca is a decent enough website, but while it got some buzz in the blogosphere, it didn’t get too much play in the mainstream media. If the Conservative Party had financed it and put the “paid for by the Conservative Party of Canada” tagline on the bottom, it would get much wider attention. The significance of source is measured and assessed when a process story is written and we shouldn’t be too surprised by this.

Now to RFI.com. The source of this website is unknown. It’s a decent enough website, but is it Conservative Party, NDP, Republican, or me? The mystery around the website itself has become most of the story. By trying to tag me as the author of the website, Kinsella seeks to eliminate the mystery, and the story.

“You mean some guy made it and its not a Karl Rove or Doug Finley production? Moving on…”

Over the last couple of days, I’ve watched, with some astonishment, the efforts of Liberal partisans to investigate the website and, if not address the arguments made there, the person who made the site. Sometimes a wise communications strategy for an individual under fire is to stop talking about what’s antagonizing them. It’s a much more difficult task to integrate this strategy into the Liberal collective.

Unfortunately for Kinsella (and for me), I did not create RepublicansforIgnatieff.com. The Liberal war room chief unfortunately misattributes a quote from a Liberal partisan named “Ted” (Ted Betts) to a sometimes Conservative partisan pen-named Raphael Alexander as shaky evidence of my involvement. I denied making the site about a week ago.

So who is behind the website? I really don’t know. I have my suspicions, but for now the process story will spend another day in the sun as the Liberals keep talking about it.

Introduction to Canadian media and politics

If there is one constant in Canadian federal politics, it is the mainstream media process stories about how warring political factions are offending to key groups of voters. See here how stories are floated to underpaid reporters and columnists in order to tick off key Trudeaupian voter blocks as politicos tick off key constituencies off their lists.

Women:

“Meanwhile, there are rumblings among some grass-root Liberal women that Mr. Ignatieff doesn’t quite share that view. Mr. Ignatieff has few female caucus members in key critics’ roles and has one senior woman in his entourage: communications director Jill Fairbrother . (Stephen Harper doesn’t have a single senior woman.) The rumblings are that if more women were in high places, seeking consensus, we might not have come to the brink of another federal election this month.

Ukrainian-Canadians:

Ignatieff’s sin, the protesters feel, was to pen “derogatory remarks” about Ukrainians in his 1995 book Blood & Belonging.

The UCC’s press release cites two offending passages. “From my childhood in Canada,” Ignatieff wrote, “I remember expatriate Ukrainian nationalists demonstrating in the snow outside ballet performances by the Bolshoi in Toronto. ‘Free the captive nations!’ they chanted. In 1960, they seemed strange and pathetic, chanting in the snow, haranguing people who just wanted to see ballet and to hell with politics. They seemed fanatical, too, unreasonable. Hadn’t they looked at the map? How did they think Ukraine could ever be free?”

Gays:

Toronto’s Pride Week may have seen its last cheque from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government after this year’s $400,000 contribution provoked a backlash from within the ranks of MPs and Conservative supporters.

Chinese-Canadians:

Another controversy relates to comments made by a senior Ignatieff advisor, Warren Kinsella. In a Youtube video posted earlier this year, Mr. Kinsella claimed he was planning to enjoy some “barbecued cat” (Ottawa Citizen. January 31, 2009). After extensive coverage of his statements in the Chinese-Canadian media and pressure from Chinese Canadians, Mr. Kinsella apologized. (Globe and Mail. January 31, 2009)

Lebanese-Canadians:

During the Israel-Lebanon conflict in 2006 Mr. Ignatieff’s observations angered Lebanese-Canadians when he first said of civilian deaths in Lebanon: “This is the kind of dirty war you’re in when you have to do this and I’m not losing sleep about that.” This statement angered many Lebanese-Canadians. (Toronto Star. August 2, 2006)

Catholics:

A senior New Brunswick Roman Catholic priest is demanding the Prime Minister’s Office explain what happened to the sacramental communion wafer Stephen Harper was given at Roméo LeBlanc’s funeral mass.

During communion at the solemn and dignified service held last Friday in Memramcook for the former governor general, the prime minister slipped the thin wafer that Catholics call “the host” into his jacket pocket.

Korean-Canadians:

Past comments by Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff are coming back to haunt him as members of the Korean community accuse him of suggesting he would starve North Koreans.

While at Harvard in 2005, Ignatieff said, “I strongly support reductions in food aid” to strengthen the international community’s negotiations with North Korea on nuclear weapons.

“Is that a difficult human rights problem? You bet. But that’s where I would go,” he said at the time. “I would look at the food aid, and all the bilateral stuff we are doing that keeps this odious regime going.”

Why are these stories written? Because they’re easy, because they sell papers and each side believes that on sum, they’ll emerge from the fray less thrashed and bruised than the other guy. Before you think that the end result of this is more people voting Green, consider my own entry into this theatre of the chronically offended.

Guilty of this myself, I suggest that there is wisdom in the following rap lyric (as I say in my most terrible impersonation of an ironic James Lipton): “don’t hate the player, hate the game”

And therefore, if the players remain constant, how do we change the game?

Click here to read my proposed solution. I’ve argued that it’s the way that our politics is funded.

An excerpt:

Under the current Canadian system, we give welfare to parties for being best able to convince Canadians of the other parties, “No They Can’t”. If we made politics about the positive (Yes), responsibility of self (We) and enablement (Can) rather than the negative (No), what one’s opponent would do (They) and a need to stop them (Can’t), perhaps we could reduce voter apathy both at the ballot box and when parties pass the hat. If we gave voters more power to finance those they support rather than sustain those they least detest we could shift Canadian politics for the better.

Liberals: election now, before the economy gets better

In politics, one is usually driven to action to prevent a problem from developing, or to act to make something better when it is going in the wrong direction.

On the website of Michael Ignatieff’s war room chief Warren Kinsella, we learn why the Liberals are itching for an election now:

[In] politics, as in war, you attack when your opponent is weak, not strong. … Right now – due to the recession, due to a stumblebum Tory team, due to their leader who nobody likes – we know the other side is really, really weak. In a few months – due to a economy rebounding, mainly – they could be strong. Go with what you know is the reality, not what you hope may be the reality.

Of course, this logic is sound; if your enemy is weak, attack your enemy. This is strategy 101 and Iggy’s guy is among the best in the professional political class. However, it is difficult for Michael Ignatieff to say that he wants parliament to work when Liberal strategy reveals itself as ambition at the expense of jobs and the economy. If the economy is on track to rebound, why endanger this by throwing the helmsman overboard with an election? Prime Minister Stephen Harper released his second report on the Economic Action Plan to see Canada through this difficult economic period. Conservatives have revealed that 80% of planned stimulus is already out of the gate and those shovels are in the ground. It was also revealed that increased EI payments accounted for a large chunk of the deficit.

It will be difficult for the Liberals to go to an election on the economy for the following reasons.

  1. their chief election strategist explains that the economy will get better under the Conservatives and that the reason why Canadians should go to an election is because the Liberals don’t want the Tories to get the credit.
  2. they’ve complained that the stimulus money isn’t flowing when in fact it is.
  3. they’ve complained about the size of deficit when their only major plan for the economy is to increase EI eligibility (ballooning the deficit)
  4. Michael Ignatieff has written 17 books but at most a few scant paragraphs on economic theory while Stephen Harper has a graduate degree in economics.
  5. Ignatieff’s friends in the White House are racking up substantially larger deficits per capita and are doing nothing to stop an allied congress from destroying the Canadian economy with its “Buy American” protectionism.
  6. The Liberals have not produced any substantial pushback outside of Parliament save a boring two minute Youtube lecture on the politics of nice from Dr. Ignatieff. And on the economy? Grit girl Youtube ads? Torytube it ain’t, Warren.
  7. The Liberals don’t have a strong record themselves of balancing their own books. In substantial debt themselves under Dion and still posting underwhelming fundraising numbers under Ignatieff, how can the Liberals manage our pocketbooks when they cannot manage theirs?
  8. Conservative scandals highlighted by the opposition have not been on the economy. Raitt-gate will not turn the average voter. The scandal regarding Raitt’s unfortunate private remarks about cancer may indeed represent a “sexy” opportunity for career advancement for Dr. Ignatieff, however, he’ll find that the average Canadian voter doesn’t find this inside the Queensway stuff all too sexy or even relevant to them. Isotope supply is relevant, but a tape recording is not.
  9. If Michael Ignatieff wants to run an election on EI, he should wait a few years in order to pay as much into the system as the average Canadian voter. Forgive the talking point, but the man was outside of Canada for 34 years.
  10. During an election, Liberals will without fail propose social spending to fix the economy. This puts them on the ugly side of the wedge that is the $50 billion deficit.

Conservative Party ad: “Michael Ignatieff: Just Visiting”

Within the last few minutes, the Conservative Party of Canada finally rolled out an ad defining a message track about Michael Ignatieff. Take a look:

The main message from the Tories here is that Michael Ignatieff has been out of the country and is only back in the country for his own ambition. The “Just Visiting” line is a good one because it will ring true to many Canadians and their perceived sense of commitment to country. In fact, Michael Ignatieff has already tried to pre-emptively blunt this form of attack by writing a book titled True Patriot Love wherein he outlines his mother’s family’s commitment to this country.

Narrator: Why is Michael Ignatieff back in Canada after being away for 34 years? Does he have a plan for the economy? No, instead he’s running attack ads hiding the fact that he hasn’t offered any economic ideas… just attack ads. With no long term plan for the economy, he’s not in it for Canada… just in it for himself. It’s the only reason he’s back. Michael Ignatieff: Just Visiting.

It’s interesting to note that the Conservative Party has framed “Grit Girl” Youtube vidoes as Liberal attack ads. Most observers note that the professionally produced though anonymously released ads are most likely being churned out by the Liberal Research Bureau or by Liberal HQ. Usually the videos first see wide distribution on the blog of Ignatieff’s war room captain Warren Kinsella.

The image is strong and cynical. It show an image of the Liberal leader simply drifting by and transitory. The Conservatives are also accusing the Liberals of running attack ads. The ad touches upon the #1 issue in the economy successfully underscores Igntieff’s main negative. Some observers will remember that Ignatieff once mused that if he didn’t ascend to the Prime Minister’s Office that Harvard would likely take him back.

Liberals first to go neg via proxy?

In the dark world of politicking, political gamemanship and attacks on political opponents, the new Liberals are a bit more sophisticated that their purged Dionista bretheren.  With the backdrop of a global economic crisis, governments working together to “rescue” (that’s another debate) the worldwide economy through spending and bailouts, political parties in Canada are somewhat reluctant to play partisan games to avoid being cast in a bad light themselves among the voting public that does not have an appetite for attacks.

For this reason, the Conservatives post-Dion have been relatively quiet on defining the new Leader of the Opposition.  Every opposition leader from Manning to Day to Harper and yes, Mr. Dion, has been ruthlessly defined by the governing party of the time.  We have yet to see the Conservatives unload on Mr. Ignatieff with even a hint of the fire they rained down on the hapless Stephane Dion.

No party can been seen to have initiated a wave of negativity during this time so perhaps the Conservatives have strategically been holding off on firing the first volley.

Though, as I’m coming to realize, the Liberals may have been sniping at the Conservatives for a few weeks now though as insurgents that have shed their Liberal uniforms.

Take, for example, this video by “theGritGirl”:

theGritGirl joined YouTube on March 10, 2009 but is already cranking out broadcast quality vignette’s attacking the Conservative government.  Surely skill doesn’t automatically mean that a big P partisan professionalism is at play here.  But go to 9 seconds into the video to committee testimony by Minister Jim Flaherty.  If you exist off of the Hill, you might have seen this testimony on CPAC and if you exist on the Hill, you may have seen it on that same channel or through the internal House of Commons feed.  Note that this TV-quality feed lacks “CPAC” designation meaning that this video capture likely occurred on the Hill from the House of Commons feed.  This professional video (with titles produced with a professional video suite like After Effects) was also first seen on Warren Kinsella’s blog.  The lack of CPAC designation and Warren Kinsella’s distribution may mean that the Liberals produced the video and are the first to “go neg” during this time of economic crisis.  If the Conservatives are looking for an opening to unleash a barrage against Ignatieff and the Liberals this may be it as their actions would appear to be defensive rather than offensive.

Further to more Liberal attack, we see this entry by Liberal war room chief Kinsella on March 2 featuring a letter from James Turk, the head of the Canadian Association of University Teachers complaining to Minister Goodyear that a staffer told Turk and his colleagues them to “shut up” during a meeting.  After looking into this incident, I learned that Turk and his associates had given the Minister a brow-beating for about an hour without bringing up new business (ie. that he hadn’t already read in published op-eds by Turk et al).  The letter is carbon copied to Marc Garneau (Liberal S&T critic) Stephen Harper, Tony Clement, and Jim Maloway (NDP S&T critic).  The document on Kinsella’s site is a scanned copy of the fax sent to one of those individuals (let’s say Garneau) and then passed onto Kinsella.

In today’s Globe and Mail, we read that Jim Turk has an immediate comment available regarding the balancing of one’s job as Minister of S&T and one’s own personal faith.  Here’s Turk,

“The traditions of science and the reliance on testable and provable knowledge has served us well for several hundred years and have been the basis for most of our advancement. It is inconceivable that a government would have a minister of science that rejects the basis of scientific discovery and traditions,”

Outside of Goodyear’s tangential though unwise hedging on evolution, we see this Globe and Mail piece write up Turk on Goodyear without the context of their previous run-in.  Turk is presented as an unbiased voice on Goodyear.  Also, Turk and Goodyear didn’t spar over Goodyear’s unknown views of a particular field of science or how public policy is or is not informed by those views.  Further, this Globe piece is timed perfectly for those that would gain from a Conservative stumble on Goodyear as the government held a high profile event last night honouring NSERC award winners.  In communications, that was supposed to be the story that Conservatives wanted whereas, the Liberals got quite a gift today.

Finally, if we check out Kinsella today, we find him going along the same attack as that unleashed against Stockwell Day.  Kinsella will be dusting off his Barney doll to chase away religious constituents that Ignatieff is said to be courting.

Have the Conservatives used proxies to level attacks agaist their opponents in the past? Of course.  This is nothing new; every political party does it.  But in this latest post-Dion, post-economic collapse round of the war where everyone is supposed to rise above, if the Conservatives are holding their fire so they won’t be blamed for playing politics during this economic crisis, the Liberals and their proxies have just given them the green light and the media wouldn’t hold much credibility if they said the Tories fired first.